If you follow laist, you probably saw this post about ramen burgers. If you haven’t, I’ll wait for you to read it.
Are you caught up? Good.
Ever since I had read about ramen burgers through LAist’s sister site, gothamist, I was craving something I’d never had before. The concept intrigued me. The image weirded me out. Was it possible that the twain had finally met?
What sold me on the concept was the description of the flavor. In short, shoyu ramen with a hamburger patty would be available to hold in your hands in the form of a sandwich.
Mind you, when I saw the name “Keizo Shimamoto,” my gut reaction was to think that another eccentric man from Japan wanted to make an extremely popular dish even more convenient. Japan is famous for taking food to crazy levels, and this guy was adding himself to the list with his creation. What I didn’t realize is that he’s a nissei (second generation), just like me. We’re American as it gets, but there’s still a strong tie to our country of culture.
Anywho! When I found out that his ramen burger was coming to LA, I wanted to try one. I emailed a friend to see if she was interested and she was. I warned her that we’d have to go early since they tended to sell out quickly and offered to get her coffee on the ride over. (It always pays to bribe your friends, especially since this meant all plans to sleep in were now cancelled.)
From what I’d heard about Brooklyn, the burgers were practically gone before they officially opened. I’d seen several people retweet/repost the laist article on several social media sites and worried that we’d face a massive crowd at 8:30am. All worry faded when I turned into the driveway of Mistuwa and saw only a handful of cars and maybe thirty or forty people lined up.
Eleven o’ clock rolled around and people were getting antsy. In the hours that passed, we’d been offered paper fans, tee-shirts, and bottled water. Someone announced that we would be allowed to go into the store shortly. Something delicious was being prepared – you could smell beef cooking. I sincerely prayed it was the burgers.
Groups of about ten to twelve people were allowed inside at a time. Everyone from local news crews to people passing through the store had their cameras and smartphones out to capture the organized chaos going on behind the glass.
The guys behind the grill were trying to time the patties and the “buns” so that both would be perfect.
Sauce was spooned on, followed by a handful of arugula and a sprinkling of green onion.
The whole thing was popped into what looked like a sheet of paper, but a quick pull turned it into a convenient container.
We had to hunt down a table. The whole food court was packed with regular customers and all of us who came for a ramen burger. We managed to find a spot and dug in. Three people sitting nearby asked how the burgers were.
It was exactly as I hoped the ramen burger would taste. The noodles were al dente with a little bit of crunch on the top, the sauce melted a bit with the meat and turned into soup, and the green onion gave it that perfect kick. It was literally a mini-bowl of shoyu ramen with hamburger – similar to what I’ve done with instant ramen and leftovers. And the wrapper kept almost all of the juice from dripping down my fingers, leaving a perfect last sip of broth at the end.
When I finished the last bite, I was sad it was over.
ごちそうさまでした, Shimamoto-san! Thanks for a great meal!
(The rest of the pics can be found here.)
Edit: You can see the back of my head in a CBS news story here. I managed to grab a screenshot: